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Today Aplus Health Topic – What Is Diastasis Recti?
You may have noticed a condition whereby a pregnant lady still looks pregnant, even after her delivery A condition called diastasis recti can be blamed for this.
Diastasis recti is the separation of the abdominal muscles whereby, there is a gap in between the rectus muscles on either side of the midline of the abdomen. It is very commonly seen in pregnant women as almost two-thirds of women experience this condition during pregnancy.
This condition is very common due to the growing uterus and repeated pregnancies. It also depends on the type of tissues one has. The name of the muscle on either side of the abdomen from the midline is called ‘rectus abdominis’ and the literal meaning of diastasis is separation.’ Hence, the term has been coined diastasis recti’ meaning separation of the rectus muscle.
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Diastasis recti – The Causes
This condition is quite common due to repeated pregnancies, increased age of the woman, twin pregnancy and a big baby(during pregnancy). However, it is mostly common in women with some connective tissue disorders.
When this separation of muscles happens, the uterus, bowels and other organs have a very thin band of connective tissue to support them. If this band is also not there, it gives rise to a condition called ‘hernia whereby the protrusion of abdominal organs can occur due to the defect.
In most cases, this separation reduces after delivery but in some cases, it may persist even after the delivery and women continue to look pregnant, though they have delivered the baby.
Diastasis Recti – How It Occurs
During pregnancy as the uterus grows and due to hormonal changes, the thin band of connective tissue which holds abdominal muscles together, tends to get thin. It’s a natural mechanism to accommodate the growing uterus and after delivery.
In the post-partum period, when hormones get back to normal, this thinning also tries to recover and diastasis also recovers, but in some cases, it does not come back to normal because of the overstretching of connective tissues. For example, an overstretched balloon never comes hack to normal after it is deflated.
Diastasis Recti – Detection Of Diastasis
You can detect this condition yourself by a simple test Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Keep one hand on your midline with your fingers pointing downwards and press your fingers towards your naval.
Now, try to raise your head with chin towards your body – this helps contracting the rectus muscle and it there is a gap, you will notice it whale doing this test.
If you can feel a gap of two fingers in your midline – you have diastasis. Repeat the procedure below the naval too. However, the extent of diastasEs may vary at different places. It a gap of four fingers is observed. it is severe diastasis.
Diastasis Recti – Problems Associated With Diastasis
In severe cases, it can cause low back pain, constipation, leakage of urine, pain during intercourse and also hip pain. A severe case whereby the protrusion of organs starts from the defect, causes hernia and needs surgical correction.
Prevention Of Diastasis Recti
Diastasis Recti – Avoid Strain
The situation worsens under strain. Hence, avoid constipation and chronic cough-like conditions which can put a lot of strain on the connective tissue and make matters worse. Heavy weight lifting, carrying and lifting your kids also causes a separation pool of connective tissue and leads to diastasEs. Also, pushing during labour may cause this condition, if done in a wrong way.
Diastasis Recti – Exercise Wisely
Some of the exercise moves like sit-ups, planks and crunches can worsen the condition. Contact a physical therapist who is aware of diastasis to teach you the right kind of exercises.
Diastasis Recti – Recommended Treatment
Exercise should the first choice for treating diastasis. You should consult your doctor and if he/she is fine with the exercises post-partum. you can start those exercises. It is best to strengthen your abdominal muscles before pregnancy.
The extent of the separation can be determined clinically by measuring the gap with your fingers, measuring tape, or by ultrasound. It very severe, it may need surgical correction with an operation titled.
Abdominoplasty’ or ‘tummy tuck’ by which, the excess folds of tissues are removed and the midline is brought together and sutured. However, do ensure that your family is complete, before going in for such surgeries.
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A surgery for this condition should be your last option.